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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  September 19, 2011 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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obama draws the line, let's play "hardball." good evening, i'm chris matthews. leading off tonight, taking the fight to the republicans. when the president announced his deficit-cutting plan today, he made it clear he's not buying the no new taxes ever taboo taught by republicans. his $3 trillion plan includes $1.5 trillion in tax increases, primarily by ending the bush tax cuts that favored the wealthy. >> i will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary americans. and i will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on medicare, but does not
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raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share. >> will it pass? no. will it win over middle class voters? we'll see. one thing it will do is give the president a stark, well-known plan to begin the upcoming november fight over debt reduction. plus, barack obama has been incredibly lucky in his opponents so far, from an absurdly weak candidate in his senate race to john mccain, who seemed well off his game of eight years before. could the republicans be handing mr. obama another gift? this one named rick perry, who scares off the middle and hands the republicans to obama. also, a former president, a former head of the fbi, and 51 members of congress are among those who have called on the georgia parole board to grant clemency to troy davis. davis was convicted of killing a savannah, georgia, police officer, but seven of nine witnesses have now recanted their testimony. no one has given this story more publicity than the host of msnbc's "politics nation," the reverend al sharpton.
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and he joins me tonight. and what the obama white house didn't need, a new book portraying its team as rudderless and hostile to women. the white house is pushing back, pushing back very hard. let me finish tonight with this that question of obama's luck. are he and his rivals both counting on it to hold in 2012? we start with president obama fighting back. senator chuck schumer is a democrat from new york. he sits on the senate finance committee. senator schumer, it seems like president obama today hasn't totally bought your idea of going after people who make more than $1 million a year and don't pay their fair share of taxes. >> well, i think it's a good thing. most americans believe that at least on the highest income people, people who make over $1 million, that those taxes should not go down with the bush tax cuts, and maybe should even be a little bit higher. this is the one part of our economic spectrum that's done extremely well over the last ten years.
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the middle class income is down, poverty is up. even upper middle class people have stayed flat. but the very, very wealthy have done extremely well and they should do their share. they don't care about medicare or medicaid or student loans. this is the way they can help. >> the buffett rule, making sure that people in the very high-income brackets pay the same percentage as people in the middle classes pay. how do you do that? how do you bring that fight to the country and win? >> oh, i think if the president should bring it to the country, and i believe he will, he will win. and that's something that i believed for a long time. i believed it back in december. the bottom line is, 59% of republicans think very well-to-do people should pay more in taxes. and you just have a small group that dominates the republican party apparatus that's against this, but the american people, liberal, moderate, and conservative are not against it. they're for it.
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so if you go to the country, you will never get this done by simply asking republicans to do it. but if you go to the country and change people's minds, you can get it done. and i think that's what the president will relish doing over the next month. >> do you think the public knows that the top 1% of the country made 20% of the income? the top 20% makes 60% of the income. those numbers, do they resound with the public? are they aware that there's kind of economic inequality in the country? >> i think the public realizes that economic inequality is on the rise, and most of all, what the public realizes is that the middle class is struggling. they might not put it in these terms. they know that median income has gone down. it's harder in 2010 for a middle class family to pay the bills than in 2000. but they do know that the people at the highest end have done very, very well. and i think they feel -- i don't think people feel resentment towards the rich. they just want them to do their fair share. >> let me ask you about this whole debt reduction effort coming up in november. obviously, it's going to be -- >> chris, one other thing. >> go ahead.
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>> when ryan calls this class warfare, to say that wealthy people should pay their fair share, that's outrageous. that's like saying when he call for a middle class tax cut, that that's class warfare. simply to say that income tax should be redistributed in ways differently than it is today, whether you want to have more taxes on some groups or less on others is not class warfare, and that's cheap. >> can you hold to this position, going into the debt reductions in november? will the democratic party say, this is our offer, half this debt reduction has to come in taxes? a lot of it's got to come from the rich. we've got to hold the line on this through the fight, even if you go into the automatic alternative. >> i believe that the president was really much stronger. i thought the speech he gave today was his best yet. i think he went home. this is my own speculation, of course, but i think he thought about things in august and said, he has to draw more differences
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between who's stopping things and who's for things. and that speech today was like it. and i think that the president's saying that we will not cut medicare and medicaid, which he took a lot of flak for from his own party when he was agreed to come to the table with boehner on those things, but we will not cut those unless we get an increase in revenues, has now made it possible to actually come to a big deal in the super committee. because before that, if republicans just say, if you don't raise taxes, we're not for any increase in revenues, then their view was, we'll get this all out of cutting medicare and medicaid. let's take that idea off the table, because democrats won't be for it and the president did early on, which may allow the super committee to get more done, rather than less. >> is it smart for the president, or is it just simply necessary, he has to focus on debt reduction now, including higher taxes for the wealthy, fair taxes for the wealthy, at a time when the public, in all the polls say, democrats should be focusing on jobs, not debt reduction?
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>> yes, the main focus has to be on jobs, absolutely. but i think the president sees this in a very -- in a continuous way. that our first few years, we should focus on jobs. but over ten years, we should reduce the debt. and reduce the deficit. and i think that's where most americans are. and i think, actually, it will be easier to create some jobs programs, particularly the kind we really need, such as build infrastructure and making sure that teachers aren't fired. it will be easier to do that if the public believes that in the long run, we democrats are for getting a handle on our debt and our deficit. >> okay. thank you so much for coming on "hardball," senator chuck schumer of new york. >> chris, great to be here. today's a good day. >> well, a big day for the president. here's howard fineman, msnbc political analyst and editorial director for the "huffington post" media group. first, let's take a look at this. republicans jumped on the president's plan today as class warfare.
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let's listen. >> class warfare, chris, may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics. >> when you pick one area of the economy and you say, we're going to tax those people, because most people are not those people, that's class warfare. >> well, i don't believe that class warfare is leadership. and, you know, we could get into this tax the rich, tax the rich, but that is not -- that's not the basis for america. and it's not going to get our economy going again. and it's not going to put people back to work. >> well, today president obama reacted to the class warfare charge. let's listen to the president again. >> middle class families shouldn't pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires. that's pretty straightforward. either we ask the wealthiest americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we're going to have to ask seniors to pay more for medicare. we can't afford to do both.
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this is not class warfare. it's math. >> well, howard, there it is. i mean, two democrats that i respect, there's the president and chuck schumer both saying we're not doing this out of resentment, we're not doing it out of class warfare, it just must be done. because somebody has to pay the load and the rich, you know, you go where the money is. they got the money, they've got to pay their share. >> well, the predicate is that they haven't, according to them, been paying their fair share. so it's not inventing something, it's going back to what the situation was before george bush. at least, that's the argument they're going to be making. >> let's give that argument a little sift here. it seems to me that a lot of people who make millions, not just ceos who make money, a lot of people make money off money. they're the ones that pay the lowest taxes. the male or female worker out there sweating their butt off pays a higher rate than the person sitting at home clipping coupons, as we say. that's what the president says is unfair. why does some person pay 35% and somebody else pay 15%? he says, make that 15% and get jacked up to 35%.
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go ahead, i'm sorry. >> that's absolutely right. there's two things. there's the way the money's made and there's the amount of it. and it's true that a lot of upper middle class people get most of their income from wages and salary and so forth, not from interest on investments, and that's one of the things the president's going on. >> let's ask the question, will it work and will it work politically? will he ever get it passed? >> no, it's not going to get passed. but the key thing for him is, this is music to the ears of most democrats. the republicans can pound the table and say, this is class warfares, horrors. bill clinton says anytime the democrats talk about taxes, the republicans scream "class warfare," which is correct. so what the president essentially is doing is saying, okay, call it what you want, i'm going to advocate this policy. the democratic base, and i talk to a lot of them today, absolutely love what the president said in the rose garden today. >> let me try to figure out what he's going to do to get re-elected. what i like to do is figure out politics. it seems to me when you have a
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9.1% unemployment rate running into next year with no sign of relief, he's got to talk jobs. he's got to stay on the road talking bridges, infrastructure, putting people to work and he's got to succeed to some extent, get that rate down a bit. and also, he's got to come up with some other part of it to say he's trying to deal with the debt issue, which is the taxing on the rich, right? >> yes. >> how much is he going to modulate the two of them? mostly jobs, just enough taxing the rich to keep the left happy or what? >> no, i think he's got to make the connection between two. >> you do it. >> well, he's got to say, look, we need this money to help america survive. now, he said that to some extent. he said, i'm not going to -- i'm going to veto any bill that goes after medicare, that doesn't also have, quote, serious revenues. but he needed to, and elsewhere in this speech he gave today, talked about infrastructure, research, bridges and roads and so on. he's got to say, look, as a country, we need the revenue to invest in the future for jobs
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today and for jobs tomorrow. >> jobs and revenue from the wealthy who aren't paying their share. >> they relate to each other. the biggest problem barack obama has giving a speech or selling an issue is sometimes he's too abstract with it. he needed to say more today about exactly how the money he would raise from people who need to pay their fair share would be used to create jobs in america. >> somebody's got to pay for the bridges. >> yeah, somebody's got to pay for it. somebody's got to -- >> you're pretty good at this. well, i mean, he's not as good as you with that simple thing you just did. >> he connected it to medicare, but he needed to connect it more directly to jobs. and i think you'll find them doing it in the next few months. interestingly, chuck schumer is driving the train right now. he won the day on the argument over the strategy -- >> above millionaire? >> yes. and i think you're going to see chuck schumer playing a very important role in the campaign, not just for the deficit reduction deal, if there is one, the budget -- the debt reduction deal, but in the obama campaign to come. >> fascinating. because he's got to deal with the wall street constituency as
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well. that's his. >> that is his -- >> he's got to punch those guys in the nose while he's doing it. >> he's going to give the president political protection to go after them. >> is it fair to say that going after the rich and their money and working on helping regular guys, he's decided he's going to live with the hatred of business? he's going to live with it? >> if he's going to be a democrat in the tradition of franklin roosevelt, he's got to say what roosevelt said, which is that i welcome their hatred. >> he did. he did do that. we liked that. thank you, howard fineman. coming up, rick perry's leading the republican field, but does he appeal to the suburban and centrist voters republicans will need to beat president obama? big question, is this guy just too far over? some people are sure he is. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc. [ mendes ] you know when something's bad -- but you do it anyway? pantene said, "breakage and split ends?" [ female announcer ] try pantene breakage to strength. the pro-v system helps prevent then repair split ends. zero fear of breakage, 100% more strength.
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welcome back to "hardball." barack obama's had luck on his side when it's come to his opponents. when he ran for the u.s. senate, he ran against alan keyes. many republicans worry that obama might get lucky again next time if they nominate rick perry. could be a very tough sell in battleground states and in big cities like philadelphia. well, tom ridge was pennsylvania's very popular governor and the nation's first homeland security secretary. last week, he endorsed former utah governor jon huntsman for president. and michael steele joins us, he served as the chairman of the republican national committee and lieutenant governor of maryland, he's an msnbc political analyst.
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and i guess the question is, we'll talk about obama's luck, but i think it's pretty manifest, the man had some pretty lucky -- he was pretty lucky in his opponents. he ran with two guys with marital problems in illinois, ended up running against this guy who parachuted in, alan keyes. i want to go with you first, you're laughing. because basically, he's been pretty lucky. and john mccain, like your party always does, runs a guy eight years too late. he was tired, just like joey jardello, the middleweight championship 20 years too late. my question is, is your party all kind of thinking, rick perry, tough sell in the 'burbs, tough sell among the -- >> some are. i think some people are looking at it that way. i think if you look at a general election strategy given what you saw the president do just in the last seven days, the whole turnaround with his effort, starting with the speech before congress a week ago, ending up with the speeches out across the country. he's ready. and -- >> he's running. >> he's running. and the question is, in a toe-to-toe conversation with the toe-to-toe conversation with the american people, do you come off
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as a gadfly or do you come off as a serious player? and i think when you look at the presidential contenders who are lining up to run, a lot of people around the country are saying, you know, the comments about social security and medicare and medicaid, the whole texas thing, may not sell that way in the middle of the country and in those key areas where we could be competitive, like pennsylvania -- >> do you and i have the same brain? because i just thought the word gadfly about an hour ago and i haven't used it in ten years. >> last time i used the word gadfly was probably a year ago. >> weird night. weird psycho ying/yang going on here. in a new gallup poll, rick perry leads republicans by 31%. by the last poll in august, he was 17% to romney's 24%. he's moving ahead. i don't think he's crested yet. you're out there with huntsman. >> absolutely. >> why? >> well, because i think -- >> you don't like perry? >> no, it's not a matter of not liking perry. i'm delighted we have three conservative republican governors running for presidency in the united states.
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i also happen to like the one that i think is the broadest range of experiences as a businessman, as a governor, as a diplomat, and someone i think is going to do very, very well with the retail politics and someone i think has the greatest appeal promoting a conservative agenda -- >> yeah, but he says he's crazy. he says he's crazy, he believes in evolution and climate change. that doesn't fit in your party anymore. he says, call me crazy. let's get back to the reality world. politico today writes about a gop meeting in harrisburg, in which, quote, most pennsylvania republicans agreed that romney would be an easier sell to the fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters who play an outside role in deciding both swing district and congressional races. i don't think rick perry is going over real well in the southeast, said suburban state senator john rafferty, who's running for attorney general out there. romney would do better. my brother is a big republican in pennsylvania. he said romney/rubio much more than rick perry. >> well, that's probably true.
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and i think you'll see -- >> are you worried about rick perry losing states that you could win otherwise, like -- like ohio? like -- well, a colorado? looking at the states that are going to be close? >> i would take a closer look at how he's polling in those states on an individual state-by-state basis. >> look at states. >> i don't know what the polls say in those particular states. i know if you get out to some places like kansas and missouri, there's a different kind of viewpoint than when you're looking at a florida. i want to see a little bit more of what they're say on the ground and how republicans are translating a perry candidacy against a barack obama. because whether you like it or not, if thing boils down to who goes up against barack obama the best, i would suspect the obama team would be a little bit more nervous with a huntsman who brings that level of -- >> how about with a romney? >> or even with a romney. >> here's the question. what happens to people in those swing states, colorado, when they find out this guy has talked up secession from the union. he doesn't like civil rights because he doesn't like the way it was founded in '64 under the constitution. he suspects voting rights should
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be gotten away with. he makes comments about evolution that makes him sound like he's a troglodyte. don't people like that go to school and worry about a guy like that being the president of the united states? >> i think the first challenge is for the republican party to understand that and understand which one of the three conservative governors has the best opportunity and the broadest appeal to independents and democrats. i know a little bit about pennsylvania, i know how these folks speak, and i know all the candidates, and we've got three conservative republicans. the conservative republican governor that does best in those suburban counties outside of philadelphia is jon huntsman. >> i think if you had a quick vote right now in ohio, you'd probably win, no matter who runs, with the unemployment rate and the sultry mood of the country. but are you worried a little bit, michael, and governor, that the president is lucky? he's pretty fast on the draw when it comes to it. as you were saying, he's out campaigning. if he gets hot on the trail, becomes sort of a harry truman,
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are you afraid it's going to take a really good candidate to beat him? >> i've always said it will take a good candidate regardless of what the situation in the country is. because beside the historic and the importance of having an african-american president of the united states, obama is one of the best political operative candidates, elected officials that we've had in a long time, since reagan, really. and even bill clinton. >> best at what? >> the best at really kind of bringing people to him. and getting people to connect to him. i think one of the problems he's had is that the white house has kept him in the white house much more than they probably should have. you voted for him, didn't you? >> no! >> i almost got you there. because you're selling him so well here. governor, is he that good? is obama that good? because right now he's down in what you sort of call the biorhythms of the administration. >> but that's now. we're looking at next november. and i think the republican party needs to understand that we need to nominate someone in tampa that can defeat obama in november. frankly, people don't care for his economic policies, there's an absence of foreign policy,
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but people still like the man. and at the end of the day -- >> who's that? the president. >> they like the president. >> are you a little worried that rick perry is a little too yahoo for states like pennsylvania? >> i think of the three candidates in pennsylvania, the one that would be best served for the republican party is jon huntsman. >> okay, let's go to indiana governor mitch daniels has decided not to run. he's very well thought of. he says there's time for someone else to jump in. in fact, he even told "the new york times" jeff zeleny he had tried to get three or four republicans, other fellas or women to jump in. "rick perry proved it wasn't too late. i don't think it's too late yet. in the wired world we're in, somebody new could get in." is that reasonable? could a chris christie get in this race? >> i don't think so. getting on the ballots in various states would be problematic to begin with, before you even get into whether or not you could raise the money. that's a huge part of the early work you have to do. when you look at what's going on in pennsylvania right now with the republican legislature and the governor are looking at changing the dynamics of how they will vote electorally, all of --
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>> how about a natural like donald trump? wouldn't he be able to jump right into this thing? just kidding. he's talking about running as independent. he's not going to drop that cash. no way. thank you. governor, good luck with your candidate. what's his name again? >> president jon huntsman. >> thank you, thank you. you heard it first. >> thank you, governor. up next, bill clinton responds to dick cheney's call for hillary to challenge president obama. boy, cheney's up to no good. he's in the side show, where he's going to stay. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] sitting. waiting. hoping. that's a recipe for failed investing. open an e-trade account and open doors, seize opportunities, take action with some of the most powerful yet easy-to-use trading tools on the planet all built to help you maximize the potential of every dollar you invest. successful investing isn't done by throwing ideas against the wall and hoping. it's done by lowering your costs and raising your expectations by using unbiased research and powerful screeners
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welcome back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. former vp dick cheney recently mischievously suggested the secretary of state, hillary clinton, should run for president and challenge barack obama. yesterday, bill clinton got his chance to weigh in on that prospect. >> i very much agree that she's done a good job. but i also have a high regard for vice president cheney's political skills. and i think one of those great skills is sowing discord among the opposition. she is a member of this administration and committed to doing it and i think he, by saying something nice about her in the way he did it, knew that it might cause a little trouble. i don't want to help him succeed in his political strategy, but i
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admired the fact that he's still out there hitting the ball. >> he's great. anyway, cheney's doing what dick nixon did back in '63 to jack kennedy, push the idea of a democratic president dumping his own democratic vice president. standard as the president just said, president clinton, standard troublemaking. actually, bill clinton's not the only one commenting on cheney these day. last week, presidential candidate and texas u.s. congressman ron paul called cheney a dictator. >> when he says he'll support all republicans except some, like myself, which means that he wants to be the dictator, and say, i will decide who is a true republican or not. and i say, he doesn't have that authority. the people have this authority. >> how can you not like ron paul? cheney was wrong about iraq, ron paul was right, and that's the record that counts. and finally, the man who keeps dipping his toes in the presidential waters, or teasing he might, donald trump has another meeting with a republican hopeful next week. trump already met with rick perry and earlier this year had
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a pizza dinner with sarah palin. well, next week it's mitt romney. but not surprisingly, trump's office is still leaving the door open for mr. trump to run in the race himself. his spokesman says, "if mr. trump is not satisfied with who the republican candidate is next june, he will potentially reenter the presidential race as an independent, which is not good news for the republican party. by reentering the race, either mr. trump will win the presidency or barack obama will, unfortunately, be re-elected." this is the first time i ever recalled someone threatening to be a spoiler. very strange. up next, the former president and former director of the fbi are among those who are calling for clemency for a georgia man now on death row. troy davis was convicted of murdering a police officer and is set to be executed this wednesday, two days from now, but seven of the nine witnesses have recanted their testimony. my msnbc colleague, the reverend al sharpton, will join us.
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welcome back to "hardball." a death penalty case in georgia is drawing national attention. the state's parole board has just concluded its meeting to consider the fate of troy davis who was scheduled to be executed wednesday evening. troy davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the shooting of an off-duty police officer, mark macphail, back in 1989. now, seven witnesses have recanted their testimony, and many jurors are saying davis should not be on death row, joining me right now is our colleague, reverend al sharpton, the host of msnbc's "politics nation." he's been out there leading to
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charge to try to save troy davis from execution. joining me is reverend al sharpton, host of msnbc's "politics nation." he's been leading the charge to try to save troy davis from execution. reverend sharpton, this case, tell me why it caught your attention, first of all. what brought you into this? a sense of actual innocence? with is that what it is? >> when his sister reached out to national action network, the group i had, about three years ago, what compelled our involvement was when we saw that he was convicted with no physical evidence, never -- there was no recovery of the weapon, there was no dna, and he was convicted, basically, chris, on nine eyewitness testimonies, and seven of those nine had recanted or changed their story. some said they were coerced. some said they were only shown a single photograph. there was clearly the overwhelming majority of the people that testified, which was the only basis of the conviction, and two of them did not recant.
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one of them, many accused of being the gunman. so we said there was clearly no basis to execute a man when you had this much reasonable doubt. >> what happened in that testimony today? did that person actually come forward, under oath, with the parole board and say it was the other guy? >> i do not know if that person has testified yet. they're in closed testimony. i do know there's been testimony by one of the jurors in the case that said that if they had, in fact, known that the ballistics didn't match, there had been, apparently, a shooting earlier in the day of this shooting, and the jury was led to believe that ballistics from the bullet found in that shooting matched the bullet found in the shooting of this officer macphail, that troy davis was accused of. if they had known that, they would not voted guilty for troy davis, which i think is startling. and you must remember that there are five members of this board of pardon and parole. three of them are new.
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have never heard any of this before. never voted before. and the two remaining, in fairness to them, are hearing things they've never heard before. so we are seeing if this board will at least stay until they get more information, stay his execution, or outright say there's not enough evidence to take a man's life. >> do you believe, reverend sharpton, this man didn't do this? >> i believe he didn't do it. but i think that there's, clearly, enough questions here that you cannot say it's beyond a reasonable doubt, when the only basis of the conviction has been the nine testimonies that now seven of which have recanted. i believe this man didn't do it. i have visited him on death row. i really believe he didn't do it. but i'm not asking them to go on my belief. i'm saying the evidence is not there, and your job is to look at evidence, and it's just not there. >> let's get to the people most involved, on the other side of this fight. that's the mother and daughter of the slain police officer,
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mark macphail. both say they believe troy davis is guilty. they followed this trial, obviously, intently, as family members from the beginning and they hope to gain peace from this execution. let's listen to them. >> it has been hell, because i want -- i would like to have some peace. i would like to have this situation over with. we are the victims. and those people that recanted, why did they wait 17 years before they recanted? they should have done it if they felt that way earlier. not when the final, final time that as come now. >> it's brought right back up to the forefront, and those wounds are just, they're ripped back open. >> well, what do you say to the mother's question, not just her, obviously, concern for what she sees as justice here and for closure, but what do you say to her charge that these witnesses were all out there saying he did it, all these years, and only later, all these years later, when the memories have faded are
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they saying they can't say that anymore, they can't be witnesses anymore to this murder? >> well, first of all, i think all of us must have nothing but sympathy and condolences for the mother and the sister. they lost a son and a brother. and no one condones that. i just think who did it should pay for it. and i don't think troy did it. >> sure, but they were watching the case long before you were. and they were watching it when these witnesses were all out there testifying under oath. and now all these years later, they just say, oh, i don't like the idea of somebody being executed, so i'm having second thoughts. couldn't you do this in every case? >> if that were the case, they would be right. what happened was, troy was defended first by attorneys that would not -- that were public defenders, could not really adequately defend him. then he was defended by a legal agency that was defunded. so these witnesses were never penetrated for all those years. so we don't know what they would have said if troy had the right
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defense. >> so a weak defense. let me ask you about the judge. why is this federal district court judge so adamant, apparently, he will not reverse, he will not allow an appeal, he will not stay the execution? what's his story? >> it could be anything from i don't want to say i was wrong, it could be, i don't want to question colleagues. you have to ask yourself, if you have a former republican head of the fbi, a former republican congressman agreeing with jimmy carter and i, the judge would have to say, why are all of us saying this, and you can't see there's really, across all lines, the question of how do you say there's not reasonable doubt here? >> okay. but let me try to be honest, even though you're my colleague, you're against capital punishment, aren't you? >> i'm against capital punishment, but bob barr is for it and he came on "politics nation" last week with me and said he's against this execution, even though he disagrees with me on the death penalty. >> let's keep an eye on this case. i do respect your vigilance on this matter. >> thank you. >> thank you. the reverend al sharpton, his follows mine, "politics nation"
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is doing very well at 6:00 eastern here on msnbc. up next, just what president obama doesn't need, a new book portraying the obama white house as a disorganized mess and even hostile -- throw this one in -- hostile toward women. and now some members of the administration are pushing back. they have to, don't they? this is "hardball." ♪ [ male announcer ] you never know when a moment might turn into something more. and when it does men with erectile dysfunction can be more confident in their ability to be ready with cialis for daily use. cialis for daily use is a clinically proven low-dose tablet you take every day, so you can be ready anytime the moment's right. ♪ [ man ] tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications and ask if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. don't take cialis if you take nitrates for chest pain as this may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. [ man ] do not drink alcohol in excess with cialis.
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wow, what a story this is. we're back. just what the white house needed. with polls already showing that the public has lost confidence in the president's handling of the economy, a new book out this week paints a portrait of a white house economic team that is dysfunctional, and a young president who was constantly, quote, undermined by his more seasoned advisers. the book is by pulitzer prize winning author ron suskind. it's a controversial book. already, several of the people quoted in it have already come out and attacked the book they're quoted in. but the stinging portrait might have a damning effect anyway. according to news accounts, the president often felt, quote, performance pressure, having to play the part of a president, in charge and confident, each day, in front of his seasoned, combative, prideful team, many of whom had all together
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recently served another president. as he confided to one of his closest advisers, after a private display of uncertainty, i can't let the people see that. i don't want the staff to see that. i get up every morning, it's a heavy burden. nia henderson has read the book, gives her a strong position. richard wolffe is a journalist and an msnbc analyst who has written extensively on the president's economic team. let me ask you about the book. we have all these weird embargo rules about what we can say. whatever you can say, this book, does it ring true? >> well, in parts it does read true. i mean, some of the things that have come out, we've already sort of knew. i mean, whether it was about this whole idea of the white house as a boy's club, that is something that we've already extensively reported on, here at "the washington post," at "the new york times," there had been pretty lengthy stories about this. of course, now we have anita dunn pushing back specifically on something she supposedly said in the book, saying that the white house was a hostile environment to women, that it
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fit the legal definition of a hostile environment. she's very much pushing back on that. i spoke to her on friday. she also declined to discuss -- in the book, there's a scene where there's a dinner featuring 12 women who go to the president and really complain again about this kind of frat boy, all-boys environment. and she declined to talk about that too. she said she would never talk about private conversations she's had with the president with a reporter or a book author. so you have seen, starting today, a real strong pushback from this white house, even pointing to passages in the book that seem to have been copied from wikipedia, some other mistakes. and i guess in a book that's 500 pages, of course, there are going to be some mistakes, but the white house is arguing that those mistakes really undermine the general premise of the book. >> well, you're right, anita dunn is the president's former communications director and she's quoted by suskind in the book as saying about the white house, this is bad stuff. "this place would be in court for a hostile workplace, because
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it actually fit all the classic legal requirements for a genuinely hostile workplace to women." and look at this quote from christine romer, the former chairman of the council of economic advisers. according to ron suskind, the author, she thought she was purposely excluded during one meeting with larry summers. he quotes her as saying, "i felt like a piece of meat." both women have since denied saying these things to suskind. well, there's on old phrase in british politics, they would, wouldn't they, deny it. so if they're loyal and they may have said it in all kinds of context, they may not have said it. how do you put this together? you've done a good job of covering this white house. >> well, i haven't read the book. i don't want to trash someone else's -- >> what about the charges? >> what would worry me as an author, a writer, is actually the small stuff more than these quotes. people deny quotes. obviously they're pushing back very hard on that. the factual stuff, that will keep me up at night in a cold sweat.
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if you say dan fafer was deputy press secretary that speaks to the sloppiness in the writing or editing or both. in terms of my own writing -- >> everybody on the progressive side loved ron suskind's book when he loved about the bush white house. >> of course they did. >> same guy. >> he's making an economic teams that totally gels with what i wrote in "revival." >> dysfunctional. >> extremely dysfunctional. that's the old economic team under larry summers. >> you say part of it is old news? >> i haven't read the whole book. >> here's what larry summers said to one of his colleagues, peter orszag. "we're home alone. there's no adult in charge. clinton would never have made these mistakes." summers told politico today the account in the book is a combination of fiction, distortion and words taken out of context. also quoted in the book, paul volcker, the great former fed
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chairman who headed the president's economic recovery advisory board. said "obama is smart but smart is not enough. leadership is another thing entirely about knowing your mind enough to make real decisions, ones that last." that's a profound criticism of the president. that's not really about this book. that's a profound charge about the need for a president to have a firm grip on his own thinking or her on thinking, the ability to stay the course. he's saying obama doesn't have that. that's probably a more profound comment that we're talking about here. >> in some ways if you read near the end of the book, president obama also admits that, himself. this whole idea of it's not enough to be confident in the chair in the oval office. part of leadership is also transmitting that sense of confidence to the american people. he -- suskind interviews the president, it lasted 50 minutes in february. you do get the sense this was before. this whole idea of a feuding economics team and rahm emanuel and larry summers and those, big personalities ramming
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legislation through congress. that's what the president needed then. now that he turned a chapter, post-shellacking in november 2010, it's a different since of what he needs to do and he reflected on he needed to develop a narrative for the country. >> now the republicans who don't like this country and the public is worried about the economy, have a bible, they have this break they can wave around like the little red book from now until the election. let's stick to this book. does this now give them a text, it gives them anecdotal stuff, throw in the charge of sexism in the work place or hostile workplace. this larger charge, that larry summers said nobody was supervising him. he was home alone like in the movie. >> let me pick that up. a moment. it's so ironic having larry summers say that kind of thing. larry summers was the one slow walking the economic ideas. it's a bit like a criminal blaming law enforcement for being lax.
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okay? >> he's the one chat charges in the book that geithner slow walks stuff. >> he's the one who undermined the president when it came to economic regulations, or on too big to fail, undermined volcker. he's the one who said there's no adult supervision? he hijacked the process according to all the people who worked for him. >> anyway, thank you. is this going to be an important book or unimportant book? >> it's going to be an important book at least in washington for one, two, three weeks. the things come in cycles. last week was cheney. this is the book of the moment now. >> nia malika hender sp. when we return, let me finish with luck. does the president have it? will he have it on his side in 2012? "hey wrinkle face!" that's what people could say if you're still using a liquid foundation that can settle into your lines and wrinkles and make you look older. covergirl and olay floats above lines and makes you look younger. can your anti-aging makeup do that?
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let me finish tonight with luck. people notice it, talk about it. many believe in it. a streak of luck. we know it when we see it. it seems to be something we all see and believe it when it's happening, getting the breaks. some just get them, it seems. president obama certainly has the confidence about him, it would be reasonable to assume it comes from his sense of being, okay, lucky. things have worked out for him along the way. born to not the best circumstances, his father left early. he went to a great high school, great college, great university. top law school where he had the brains and the grit that made editor of law review. he ran for the united states senate and had his two most prominent opponents drop out of
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the race for personal reasons. he ended up facing alan keys who parachuted into illinois for no better purpose than to put up a show. lucky barack. he gave a great speech at the 2004 national convention and before being elected senator and was on his way. he was a contender. he faced a tough opponent, hillary clinton, everything broke his way once again in the general election. john mccain was nominated eight years too late and threw a hail mary pass in the name of sarah palin who ended up like most hail mary passes, incomplete. go throw in the financial crisis that knocked the party of george w. bush out of the action. now obama faces a really tough outlook. joblessness hangs at 9.1% with low growth in the picture. republicans seem to be getting their act together on the road to nominating either mitt romney or rick perry. it could be romney/rubio next november or romney/perry, the other way around. a number of possible strong tickets made stronger by the 9.1% unemployment rate. the smart money now is on the republicans to back romney out
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of caution for the same reason the obama people aren't exactly losing their cool these days. yes, the president's people are confident. they've been here before. they've seen the doubters. didn't people think they were falling behind hillary this time four years ago? republicans share the superstition. they worry he will be lucky again. that's why they're holding back on perry. thinking they'd better run romney just in case this guy's luck holds as it has before. that's why the obama people refuse to panic no matter what someone wells from the sidelines. it's the the human belief in luck. it's the stuff that dreams are made of. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. >> the president comes out with a plan so republicans come out with a phrase. class warfare. >> i will not support any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary americans. >> the bold president obama today.


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